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          COVID-19 Update 20th May
          Latest advice & FAQs

          Covid-19 Update

          COVID-19 Update - Version 11, Updated 20/05/2020

          The health and well-being of our colleagues, customers and communities is our utmost priority. Following on from the recent government's announcement we’re working hard to ensure that we can return to work in England whilst keeping everyone safe. Restrictions still remain in Scotland and Wales. 

          Branches available to visit face to face

          We have started to re-open our High Street branches following a risk assessment to ensure the safety of all of our customers and colleagues. Additionally, all our branches are supported remotely by phone, email and WebChat.

          FAQs

          For added peace of mind, we thought we’d put together some FAQs which might help to answer your queries or concerns at this difficult time.

          Mortgage and Protection FAQs

          • Whilst the Government is urging homemovers to put plans on hold until social distancing restrictions are lifted, lenders are still offering mortgages rates for customers looking to buy a property and secure a deal. Whilst there may be limitations on how far  a purchase can progress, discussing your individual circumstances and wishes with us at this time may help you to plan ahead.   

            Although some of our high street branches remain closed, Countrywide Mortgages Services can still help provide an “Advice and Recommendation service” to help review your mortgage and protection requirements, all from the comfort of your own home. 

            Using the technology that Countrywide already has in place, we can progress the whole mortgage & protection application process over the phone and email. This includes digitally signing all the necessary forms and paperwork*.

            To get started please email admin@mortgagescountrywide.co.uk and include your contact details and we will arrange for a member of our team to call you back as soon as we can.

            *A fee will be payable for arranging your mortgage. Your Consultant will confirm the amount before you choose to proceed.

          • During the COVID-19 crisis, the Government has announced that all mortgage lenders must support customers who need help and financial support at this time with payment holidays for 3 months. Some lenders also offer additional help and support, but this is based on your individual circumstance and you will need to contact the lender directly to discuss further.

            Most lenders have now created a simple payment holiday application form to complete on their website. Your lender will then confirm acceptance of the payment holiday application and when it starts. Please note that this can take up to 2 weeks. Some lenders still require you to contact their helpline first which can be found on their website.

            Details of the main lender websites/telephone numbers can be found below.

            Lender

            Contact details

            Barclays

            https://www.barclays.co.uk/mortgages/

            BM Solutions

            0345 850 5000

             https://secure.lloydsbank.com/

            Coventry Building Society

            0800 121 8899

            https://www.coventrybuildingsociety.co.uk/

            Halifax

            https://www.halifax.co.uk/mortgages/existing-customers/payment-holidays/?WT.ac=PaymentHoliday

            HSBC

            https://www.hsbc.co.uk/help/coronavirus/

            Leeds

            https://www.leedsbuildingsociety.co.uk/coronavirus-information/

            Nationwide

            https://www.nationwide.co.uk/support/coronavirus/mortgage-payment-holiday

            NatWest

            https://personal.natwest.com/

            Platform

            https://www.co-operativebank.co.uk/news/2020/coronavirus-support-personal-customers

            Precise

            https://www.precisemortgages.co.uk/

            Santander

            https://www.santander.co.uk/personal/coronavirus?icid=php-Hero-Coronavirus-0320

            Scottish Widows Bank

            0345 845 0829

            The Mortgage Works

            https://www.themortgageworks.co.uk/payment-holidays

            Virgin Money

            https://uk.virginmoney.com/contact/support-hub/coronavirus/

             

          • If you have to make a claim or have a query on either your household or personal protection policies, in the first instance please refer to your policy document which will highlight all the main helpline numbers.

            We have however listed all of the main contact numbers for both AXA and AVIVA below.

            Please do not cancel a policy without first speaking to us, as your valuable protection will no longer apply. If you wish to change or adjust any of your policies, or you wish to take additional cover then please contact us at admin@mortgagescountrywide.co.uk and include your contact details and we will arrange for a member of our team to call you back as soon as we can.

            AXA:

            AXA Claim - Homeowner

            Contact

            Buildings, Contents, Personal Possessions and Pedal Cycles

            0345 521 3905

            Domestic Helpline and Home Emergency

            0330 058 1638

            Legal Helpline and Legal Expenses

            0330 058 1641

             

            AXA Claim - Landlord

            Contact

            Buildings, Landlord’s Contents and Carpets, Curtains and White Goods

            0345 521 3905

            Domestic Helpline and Home Emergency

            0330 058 1639

            Legal Helpline and Legal Expenses

            0330 058 1643

             

            AXA Claim - Tenant

            Contact

            Contents, Personal Possessions and Pedal Cycles

            0345 521 3905

            Legal Helpline and Legal Expenses

            0330 058 1642


            AVIVA:

            Personal Protection

            Contact

            Changing details, making a claim or ask a question

            Aviva Contact Us

            Manage your existing policy

            Aviva My Account

             

          • Yes customers who are struggling financially due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) can now defer premiums for up to 3 months whilst retaining their important benefits and levels of cover.*

            If you would like to apply to defer your payments then in the first instance please use the contact details below;

            AVIVA  Protection policies

            Apply using either their website or contact  AVIVA direct on 0800 2851 098

            AXA insurance policies

            Apply by contacting Countrywide Insurance Services on 01908 961399

            * Please note that Terms and conditions apply and the scheme is currently available until 18 August 2020 .

          • Lenders have reduced the number of mortgage products they have available as well as reducing the higher Loan to Value deals. However, following the recent Bank of England base rate cuts many lenders are still offering low remortgage rates for customers looking to reduce their monthly mortgage payments.

            Countrywide Mortgages Services can still help provide an “Advice and Recommendation service” and using the technology that is already in place, we can progress the whole remortgage application process over the phone and email. This includes digitally signing all the necessary forms and paperwork*.

            To get started please email admin@mortgagescountrywide.co.uk and include your contact details and we will arrange for a member of our team to call you back as soon as we can.

            *A fee will be payable for arranging your mortgage. Your Consultant will confirm the amount before you choose to proceed.

          • If you have been liaising directly with your Mortgage Consultant then please continue to do so using the email or telephone number that they have supplied to you.

            We have set up a central email address for all new enquires and this is monitored regularly. Please email admin@mortgagescountrywide.co.uk and include your contact details and we will arrange for a member of our team to call you back as soon as we can.

          Conveyancing FAQs

            • Once you have exchanged contracts, you are contractually bound to complete your sale or purchase on the agreed completion date.  If you are unable to do so, whatever the reason, you will be in breach of contract. This has always been the case, irrespective of the Coronavirus implications.
            • The implications of this can range from payment of interest under the contract for late completion, loss of the 10% deposit paid on a purchase or refund of the deposit paid on a sale, and other reasonable costs that flow from the breach of contract.  In a long chain, this could include significant costs being passed on to the defaulting party, or having to chain break and find temporary accommodation to enable a sale to go through to avoid a breach of contract.
            • We are contacting our customers who have already exchanged with a completion date beyond 31st March to discuss their options. If you have not been contacted and you think, you can no longer complete, contact your Property Lawyer.
          • We are aware of all imminent completions, and we will have been in touch with you to discuss your options. We are still exchanging and completing cases, and minimising the risks by completing on the same day as we exchange (this is known as a Simultaneous exchange and completion).

            Ordinarily, there is a period of time between exchange of contracts and legal completion.  However in these uncertain times, there are a number of additional risks which may restrict your ability to move on a predetermined and contractually bound moving date.  For example, you or someone in the chain could contract Coronavirus between exchange and completion which will restrict your ability to move.  This could lead to hefty financial penalties under the contract.

            Some Law Firms are suggesting additional clauses to be inserted into contracts to potentially work around these risks.  We do not believe that agreeing complex and lengthy COVID-19 clauses is the right approach and is in your best interest.

            Our best advice is for you to exchange and complete on the same day.  Whilst not ideal as you will not have 100% guarantee that you are moving until the day, we think this is, on balance, the right approach for the most critical exchange and completions during these extraordinary times.

            If you think your case is nearly ready to exchange and complete, please keep in regular contact with your property lawyer, as we will be working for you. Please keep your personal and removal arrangements under constant review.

          • We are quite used to dealing with simultaneous exchanges and completions but it does require the co-operation of all parties involved in the transaction and there are risks.

            • It will be necessary for you to make all the practical arrangements in advance of the proposed completion date, some of which could incur costs in advance even though until contracts have been exchanged, you cannot be certain that the transaction will actually take place. 
            • All parties involved, particularly in a chain of transactions, will have to make the same preparations and if anyone of them cannot make those arrangements in time, or their own circumstances change, the arrangement may collapse at the last minute.
            • If a proposed simultaneous exchange of contracts and completion is not successfully achieved, then all the preparations would have to be repeated in time for an alternative date and you would inevitably incur additional costs (e.g. removals cancellation fee, interest payable on your new mortgage funds ordered in advance, etc.).

            Whilst we have highlighted the main risks, we believe that in the current climate, this is the right approach which will limit some risks which are more prevalent during this lockdown period, such as;

            • Mortgage lender delays  - we know that the majority of mortgage institutions are affected by this crisis, as such there could be difficulties in getting mortgage funds for the day of completion
            • Law firms with limited capacity to operate or closed – during the lockdown period we could see office closures or Law firms who are unable to operate which could affect the ability of a chain to complete
            • Removal firms – Many removal firms are simply not operating during this time, this may affect the ability of the chain to complete, it is recommended that you continually review your removal arrangements
            • Banks open for business – whilst we have not experienced any issues to date, this could be an issue during the lockdown period.  We will continually review this with our bank and liaise with other firms prior to exchanging and completing.
          • In common with other Law firms, we are operating remotely and at a reduced capacity. You can contact us by e-mail, and the auto response will direct you to respond to a mailbox which will be monitored. We do ask for your patience as we try to manage the unique challenges posed by Coronavirus in the best interests of everyone. Our priority right now is imminent exchanges and completions. This will inevitably affect our usual service levels for cases that have no realistic possibility of completing during the lock down period.  We are also aware that mortgage lenders are drastically reducing their ability to service requests, and an increasing number of Law firms have told us of temporary closure or reduced staffing levels, all of which will have an impact on how much we are able to do.

            During these are uncertain times, we wanted to reassure you that the health and wellbeing of our customers, colleagues and communities remain the utmost importance to us. Please be assured that we are working through all queries and will deal with your case, however we will be unable to respond as quickly as we would like.  We are making every effort to work on your case and thank you for your patience at this time.

          • Although we cannot make decisions for you, we will let you know the possible options and the risks of those options. Then you can consider what would be best for you and the chain of transactions in which you may be involved.  These are extraordinary times, but we are here to support you in your move in any way we can.

          Surveying FAQs

          • The health of our customers, colleagues and communities is of the utmost importance to us and whilst these are uncertain times we want to reassure you that our focus and dedication remains to help all our customers with surveying advice. As part of this we now have a signed declaration of government compliance.

            Covid Safe Compliance Certificate

          • Many customers may have the same concerns and lenders will be experiencing high call volumes. If you have used a broker they may be able to guide you through this process or speak with your lender to ask about what happens next.

          • Yes, we are still providing mortgage valuations for our clients. However, due to the current lockdown on non-essential travel in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we are not undertaking any valuations that require us to undertake an inspection of the property.

            We moved quickly following the lockdown and by working closely with our lender clients we expanded our innovative remote valuation service to allow us to complete more cases and keep the market moving. 

            Not all cases are suitable for a remote valuation and we can only act on the instructions received from your bank or building society if you have a chat with them they’ll let you know what will happen with your application.

          • We work with our mortgage lender clients to determine which properties are suitable for a remote valuation. We adopt a risk based approach and consider a number of factors including the value of the property, the size of the loan, property age and type and its location. As such not all properties will meet the individual lenders requirements.

          • In line with the latest Government guidance we will resume inspections of vacant properties in England.

            In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the devolved administrations advice is to avoid all non-essential travel and to work from home and we have ceased all physical property inspections.

          • We can’t be sure of that just now. But, as soon as we can, we’ll get surveys booked in. We hope, as a nation, this virus risk will pass as quickly as possible. We’ll continue to follow the Government advice and act as and when that changes.

          • We have people on hand to assist our customers. Please contact us at surveying.insight@countrywide.co.uk and we will be able to help you.

          • We’re standing by to help all homebuyers with their purchase decision. Please contact us to register your interest and we’ll contact you just as soon as we can to take your instructions. Please email us at HomeFact@countrywide.co.uk

          • One of our team will have contacted you and you will have instructed us either to place the survey on hold until we are able to inspect the property or you will have cancelled the instruction. If your circumstances change contact us at surveying.insight@countrywide.co.uk

            We would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your patience during these extraordinary times.

          • A survey helps you make an informed decision about the condition of the property. Without this knowledge, you may experience problems with the property when you move in. Or there could be defects which could be costly to put right.  

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